Port of Tauranga will this September welcome the largest container ship to visit New Zealand waters, carrying 9500 TEU (20-foot equivalent units).
Maersk Line, the world's largest container shipping company, and Kotahi, New Zealand's leading export supply chain collaboration, yesterday announced the new direct service from Asia, which would only call at Tauranga.
Chief executive Mark Cairns said Port of Tauranga was well-placed to handle the larger vessels, which were even bigger than the 6500-tonne TEU vessels the dredging programme originally anticipated.
"The final stage dredging work will be completed in August as part of a $350 million capital investment programme to develop the infrastructure to become a port capable of handling larger ships," he said.
"There were a lot of knockers saying the dredging was a waste of money. But it has come more quickly than expected.
"It will unlock services for exporters and importers that they won't be able to access elsewhere.
"We are pleased to see that our upgraded infrastructure will be utilised so promptly. We're proud to be part of an innovative collaboration keeping New Zealand businesses competitive on the world stage."
Maersk Line Oceania managing director Gerard Morrison said the collaborative partnership with Kotahi established two years ago had been a catalyst for bringing larger ships to New Zealand.
"Maersk Line's existing Triple Star service will now link its northbound export calls into the company's Asia-South America service offering a fast weekly connection to North Asia providing New Zealand exporters with a sustainable, direct service to important markets including Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan," he said.
To complement the recently announced southbound service, the enhanced Triple Star would increase its frequency from fortnightly to weekly, and from late September, call at Port of Tauranga, arriving from Chile.
Kotahi chief executive David Ross said the new era had been made possible through Kotahi's collaboration with exporters, Maersk Line and Port of Tauranga to lay the groundwork to bring larger, more sustainable and efficient vessels.
"The arrival of larger ships to our waters is a key milestone for New Zealand on its journey to become a more efficient export nation. The new Triple Star enhances services to Asia, and the recently announced South Pacific Express achieves a direct service to South America, enabling New Zealand to better compete with export nations which have big ships on their main trade routes."
Maersk Line Enhanced Triple Star service features:
* 9500 TEU vessels with a length of 348 metres.
* Designed for the South America and Asia markets with a high proportion of refrigeration plugs to move chilled products.